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Former political opponents District Attorney Terence Hallinan and Supervisor Matt Gonzalez are teaming up to oppose DA candidate Kamala Harris’ settlement in a campaign spending flap. Mayoral candidate Gonzalez, who ran against Hallinan for DA in 1999, is joining forces with the district attorney to challenge an Ethics Commission action last week. The commission reached an agreement with Harris allowing her “to settle all liabilities” over her violations of campaign finance law by paying up to $34,000 in penalties. San Francisco attorney Benjamin Rosenfeld said he plans to file a petition for an alternative writ of mandate today on behalf of the Hallinan campaign and Gonzalez. It will ask the superior court to order the commission to hit Harris with far heftier fines — about $274,000 — and to re-impose spending limits in the DA’s race. While Hallinan has been battling Harris on the campaign trail for months, Gonzalez has so far stayed out of the DA fray this year. “It’s helpful when you have an elected official or legislator who also says, ‘Listen, I don’t think that the law was upheld,’ and that’s essentially my role in it,” said Gonzalez, who’s endorsed Hallinan in the DA’s race. Gonzalez said he hasn’t received an endorsement for his mayoral bid from any of the DA candidates. Asked if he thought the petition could create friction in a working relationship with Harris down the road if he is elected mayor and she DA, Gonzalez said, “Anybody who knows me knows that this is just on the merits of this issue. “I like Kamala Harris on a personal level, but I think it’s important that when a candidate gets the benefit of saying to voters, ‘I agree to campaign limits,’ that that carry with it some very serious requirements,” Gonzalez said. Harris agreed to abide by the voluntary spending limits in the DA’s race in January when she submitted a signed statement to the Department of Elections. But Harris filed statements Sept. 25 announcing that she was rejecting the caps and that she had already spent more than the $211,000 limit for the Nov. 4 race. At a special meeting Oct. 3, the commission found probable cause that Harris and her campaign violated provisions of the campaign finance law, and “the violations appear to be unintentional,” according to a stipulation order between Harris and the commission. Harris agreed to pay up to $34,000 to cover both an administrative penalty and the cost of taking out “corrective measures,” such as newspaper ads, to take responsibility for her campaign’s errors and inform voters she has not accepted the spending limit, the order said. While Harris’ campaign maintains she had the right to change her stance on the caps because the city amended its campaign finance law in July, Rosenfeld, an attorney representing Hallinan and Gonzalez in the matter, argues that the Ethics Commission should hold Harris to her January pledge. Rosenfeld contends spending limits can only be lifted when a candidate who has declined the caps raises funds or spends above them. Rosenfeld plans to ask that Harris be fined for agreeing to abide by the caps and then breaking them, to the tune of three times the $91,446 she reported spending beyond $211,000 as of Sept. 20. Gonzalez asserts Harris’ campaign has already benefited from the impression voters will get from a notation in the city’s voter information guide that says she agreed to abide by the caps. And the Ethics Commission has sent a message that any campaign can agree to the caps and then blow past them with little more than a fine, he said. Representatives from Harris’ campaign and the Ethics Commission declined to comment without a petition in hand. “I have no comment on this until I see something,” said Jim Stearns, a spokesman for the Harris campaign. The commission is scheduled to consider re-imposing the spending limits at a special meeting Tuesday. In other news on the DA race, the Bar Association of San Francisco will not endorse any candidate for the November election because not enough ballots were cast during a recent plebiscite of its active members, says a written statement issued Thursday. Ten percent, or 835, of the eligible ballots were returned, and of those, 41 percent favored Harris, 40 percent favored Bill Fazio, and 19 percent favored Hallinan.

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